Free Case Evaluation 1-800-909-7754

Can You Apply for SSI Disability Benefits While Working?

Imagine this: you’re working hard, but your health is holding you back. You’re wondering: can you apply for SSI disability while working? The good news is that you can! But there are a few things you need to know first.

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI for short, offers a financial lifeline to folks with disabilities who find themselves tight on cash and assets. So, here’s the scoop – working and applying for SSI can go hand in hand if you pay close attention to certain important conditions.

Ready to juggle? Here’s a step-by-step on balancing work with applying for SSI disability benefits. We’ll cover the eligibility criteria, income limits, and work incentives that can help you keep more of your hard-earned money. So, let’s get started!

can you apply for ssi disability while working

Applying for SSI Disability Benefits While Working

Yes, you can apply for SSI disability benefits while working. But there’s a catch.

If you’re earning over the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may deny your claim. In 2023, that limit is $1,470 per month for non-blind individuals.

So what does this mean for you? Let’s break it down.

Understanding SSI Eligibility

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program. It provides cash assistance to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or 65+.

But here’s the thing – the SSA has strict rules about how much you can earn and still qualify for SSI benefits. They look at your income and resources to determine if you’re eligible.

Work Incentives for SSI Recipients

Now, the SSA isn’t heartless. They know that people with disabilities often want to work. That’s why they offer work incentives.

These incentives let you test your ability to work without losing your benefits right away. They include things like the Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) and the Ticket to Work program.

I’ve seen these incentives make a real difference for people. They provide a safety net while you transition to work.

The SSI Application Process

Okay, so you’ve decided to apply for SSI while working. What’s next?

You can apply online, by phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. You’ll need to provide info about your medical condition, work history, and income.

The SSA will review your application to see if you meet their definition of disability. If you do, and your income and resources are below the limits, you may be approved for SSI benefits.

But heads up – the process can take a while. It’s not uncommon for it to take several months to get a decision.

How Working Affects Your SSI Benefits

So you’re approved for SSI, but you’re still working. How does that affect your benefits? It all comes down to how much you’re earning.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Limits

Remember those SGA limits we talked about earlier? They come into play here.

If you’re earning above the SGA limit ($1,470 per month in 2023 for non-blind individuals), the SSA may decide that you’re not disabled enough to qualify for SSI.

But if you’re earning less than that, you may still be eligible for benefits. The SSA will just reduce your SSI payment based on your earnings.

Reporting Your Income to Social Security

Here’s the deal – if you’re getting SSI and working, you have to report your income to the SSA. No exceptions.

You need to let them know how much you’re earning each month. If you don’t, you could end up owing them money down the line.

I know it’s a pain, but trust me, it’s better to stay on top of it. The last thing you want is an overpayment notice from the SSA.

Trial Work Period for SSI Recipients

Okay, so here’s where things get a little tricky. SSI recipients don’t get a formal Trial Work Period like SSDI beneficiaries do.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t test your ability to work. The SSA offers other work incentives, like the PASS and Ticket to Work programs we talked about earlier.

These incentives let you earn money without losing your benefits right away. They give you a chance to see if work is a realistic option for you.

Work Incentives and Support Programs for SSI Recipients

Speaking of work incentives, let’s dive a little deeper into what’s available for SSI recipients.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

PASS is a program that lets you set aside income and resources to achieve a specific work goal. That could be going to school, getting job training, or starting a business.

The money you set aside under PASS doesn’t count against your SSI income and resource limits. So it’s a great way to save up for things you need to reach your career goals.

I’ve seen PASS make a huge difference for people. It gives them the resources they need to pursue their dreams.

Ticket to Work Program

The Ticket to Work program is another great option for SSI recipients who want to work. It provides free employment services and support to help you find and keep a job.

You can get services from Employment Networks or your state Vocational Rehabilitation agency. They’ll work with you to develop a plan for achieving your career goals.

And the best part? You can keep your Medicaid or Medicare coverage while you’re participating in the program. That’s a huge relief for a lot of people.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)

If you have expenses related to your disability that you need to work, the SSA may be able to help. Things like specialized equipment, transportation, or personal care assistance could qualify as IRWEs.

The SSA can deduct these expenses from your earnings when they’re deciding if you’re engaging in SGA. So it’s worth looking into if you have disability-related costs.

I’ve seen IRWEs make work possible for people who wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise. It’s a valuable program.

Applying for SSI while you’re working can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for navigating the process.

Gathering Required Documentation

First things first – make sure you have all the documentation you need. That includes things like:

– Proof of income
– Work history
– Medical records
– Bank statements

The more info you can provide upfront, the smoother the process will go. Trust me, you don’t want to be chasing down paperwork later.

Attending Consultative Examinations

The SSA may ask you to attend a consultative exam with one of their doctors. This is just to get more info about your medical condition.

Make sure you attend these exams and answer the doctor’s questions honestly. The info they gather will be used to make a decision on your claim.

I know it can be nerve-wracking, but try to relax. The exam is just one piece of the puzzle.

Appealing a Denied Claim

If your SSI claim is denied, don’t panic. You have the right to appeal the decision.

The appeals review process can be complex, so it’s a good idea to get help from a disability lawyer. Many offer free consultations and only get paid if you win your case.

I’ve seen appeals make the difference between getting benefits and being left out in the cold. So don’t be afraid to fight for what you deserve.

The bottom line? Applying for SSI while working is possible. It just takes some know-how and persistence.

But with the right work incentives and support, you can achieve your career goals without losing the benefits you need. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

So don’t let fear hold you back. Take advantage of the disability programs and resources available to you. And most importantly, believe in yourself. You’ve got this.

Frequently Asked Questions in Relation to Can You Apply for SSI Disability While Working

Should I quit my job before applying for disability?

No need to quit. You can apply while working, as long as your earnings don’t exceed the SGA limit.

Can you claim SSI while working?

Yes, but your income must stay under certain limits to qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.

What are the most hours you can work on disability?

The focus is on earnings, not hours. Stay below the Substantial Gainful Activity level to keep your benefits.

How much can you make on social security disability and still work?

In 2021, earning less than $1,310 a month keeps you eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.


Applying for SSI disability benefits while working is possible, but it’s important to understand the special rules and guidelines. The Social Security Administration offers work incentives that can help you keep more of your earnings while still receiving SSI benefits.

Remember, if you earn above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, you may not qualify for SSI. But don’t let that discourage you from working towards your goals. With the right support and resources, you can achieve financial stability and independence.

If you’re considering applying for SSI disability benefits while working, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Social Security office or a disability advocate for guidance. They can help you navigate the application process and ensure you’re getting the social security disability benefits you deserve.

Find a Top Notch Social Security Disability Attorney in Your State 

can you apply for ssi disability while working